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US opens Jerusalem embassy amid death of 52 protesters

"Israel is a sovereign nation, with the right like any other sovereign nation, to designate its capital," he said

Press Trust of India  |  Jerusalem 

Donald Trump, Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine

The US today opened its embassy in under a controversial move by Donald Trump, amid a bloodbath right on the border with where Israeli soldiers shot dead at least 52 Palestinians in clashes, in the deadliest escalation of violence since 2014.

Trump announced the decision to move the embassy from to in December, when he formally recognised the holy city as the capital of Israel, breaking away from decades of US neutrality on the sensitive issue.

"Today, we officially opened the embassy in Congratulations. It's been a long time coming," Trump said in a pre-recorded video at the opening here.

"is a sovereign nation, with the right like any other sovereign nation, to designate its capital," he said.

The American leader said the US remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement between and Palestinians.

He said that his country supports status quo at the Temple Mount, a flashpoint of that houses the Western Wall (for the Jews) and the - known as

"This city and entire nation is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people," Trump emphasised.

Later, the US tweeted, "Big day for Congratulations!"

The inauguration ceremony started with the singing of the American anthem and the presentation of colours by US Marines.

US Ambassador to noted that Washington, which became the first country to recognise the State of Israel, has now taken "a step awaited, voted upon, and litigated and prayed for for all these years".

"Again the leads the way," in relocating the embassy, he said.

The move is the result of the "vision, the courage, and the moral clarity" of President Trump, to whom we own an "enormous and eternal debt of gratitude," the US envoy stressed.

"We have shown the world once again that the US can be trusted," said Jared Kushner, to the President and Trump's son-in-law.

He also hailed Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the nuclear deal, saying the President announced his intention to exit the "dangerous, flawed and one-sided deal."


Speaking at the opening ceremony, Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu thanked President Trump for keeping his promise. "Thank you, President Trump, for having the courage to keep your promise," he said.

"Thank you, President Trump for making the alliance between Israel and the stronger than ever," he said.

"You can only build peace on truth. And the truth is that Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish state," he asserted.

A high-level American delegation that includes John Sullivan, Steven Mnuchin, Kushner, and first daughter Ivanka Trump, and Negotiations attended the embassy opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, Palestinians, who protested massively along the border clashed with Israeli forces, leading to the death of at least 52 of them.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, at least 52 people have been killed and more than 2,400 people suffered injuries.

Of the 52 killed today, at least six were below the age of 18, including one female. And, of more than 2,400 wounded, at least 200 were below the age of 18 and 11 were journalists.

The Palestinian protestors burned tyres and threw stones at the soldiers, trying to approach the fence.

The headed by President Mahmoud Abbas' party and headquartered in the town of accused Israel of committing a "terrible massacre" as the death toll soared.

Seeking intervention, said that it was an urgent requirement given "the terrible massacre in committed by the forces of the Israeli occupation against our heroic people".

The death toll made it the deadliest day in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza war.

The (IDF) released a statement accusing Hamas, which controls Gaza, of "leading a terrorist operation" and inciting protesters who had amassed by the border fence with Israel to conduct what Israel described as terror attacks.

The IDF estimated that around 35,000 people -- who it describes as "violent rioters" -- had assembled in 12 different locations along the border fence between Gaza and Israel and thousands more were gathered in a tent city about a kilometer from the border.

The military said the protesters threw Molotov cocktails, burned tyres, and stones at Israeli soldiers positioned along the fence.

The State Department noted that the opening of the new embassy will take place on the 70th anniversary of American recognition of the State of Israel, the day of its founding and a day that Palestinians refer to as "the Catastrophe," as hundreds of thousands fled their homes.

The Embassy move is contentious for Palestinians, who hope to claim part of the city as their future capital, and for many in the Arab world, as it is home to some of the holiest sites in Islam. The city is also home to deeply holy sites for Jews and Christians.

The issue has been so thorny that negotiators had left the question of Jerusalem to the final stages of any peace deal.

First Published: Tue, May 15 2018. 02:29 IST
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